Mother Tongue, Years 7, 8, 9

Winner: Afaq Awais, Year 9, Calderstones School
Highly Commended: Chen Ji, Year 8, All Hallows Catholic College
Highly Commended: Taha Haque, Year 7, Whalley Range 11 – 18 High School

Aik Pahar Aur Gulehri (A Mountain and a Squirrel) commentary by Afaq Awais

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What the poem is about
The poem ‘Aik Pahar Aur Gulehri’ (‘A Mountain and a Squirrel)’ is a symbolic poem which describes a thought-provoking conversation between a mountain and a squirrel. The mountain represents splendour, power and arrogance while the squirrel symbolises the common man. The poem opens by the mountain bullying the squirrel by telling it that it is a small and worthless ‘little prig while the mountain itself is majestic, huge and strong and claims that nothing on earth is a match for its splendour. On hearing this, the squirrel then shows its worth by stating ‘that these are immature and self-centred thoughts; everything that God has created is important and nothing is to be cast aside. Although you are large and gigantic and I am a tiny creature but I have got many skills that you haven’t. I can climb large trees but you are unable to walk even a tiny step. Can you break this beetle nut as I can?’ The poem then ends with the squirrel’s final comments that ‘Nothing is useless in this world; Nothing is bad in God’s creation’.

Why I like this poem
I like this poem because the poet, through a simple yet impressive conversation between a mountain and a squirrel, conveyed a deep and though-provoking moral to the reader. The poem sheds light on the ongoing problem of bullying. This can include discrimination or racism where people choose to do this because a person is different, but every individual is different and every individual has something special about them.

In the first stanza of the poem it says ‘Tujhe Ho Sharam to Pani Mein Ja Ke Doob Maray’. This translates to ‘commit suicide if you have self-respect’. This links with the point about bullying and in most cases of bullying the victim commits suicide because they think that no one will respect or love them because they think they are outcastes because they are different. The media influences this because nowadays everyone wants to be like someone else e.g. a pop star. The reason the poet wrote this poem was to say that it is good to be different and diverse as this is what separates humans from a herd of sheep as humans are allowed to be different.

In another stanza it says ‘Bara Jahan Mein Tujh Ko Bana Diya Uss Ne Mujhe Darakht Pe Charhna Sikha Diya Uss Ne’ which translates to, ‘He has created you large in the world and He has taught me climbing large trees’. Another interpretation is that the poet wrote this poem to show that the person can achieve great things if he/she tries. This is evident when it says that ‘He has taught me climbing large trees’, This shows that a tiny squirrel can climb a large tree. These two things are in contrast as the squirrel is very small and a tree is very big. As big as the tree can be the squirrel can climb it and this shows that however big an obstacle is it can be conquered e.g. Martin Luther King and his struggle for human rights for black people.

The paragraphs above link together as being a victim of bullying can be a long struggle but it can be conquered. The main audience of this poem are people who are going through struggles such as stress, racism and bullying.

In conclusion I like this poem because it is very inspirational and also because of its uses of contrast, imagery and poetry techniques. Another reason about why I like this poem is that it is very simple yet has lots of depth.

 

What Language Means to Me by Chen Ji

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I wrote this poem to convey and express how I feel that the languages Mandarin and English are integral parts of me.

Mandarin is the language of my childhood, my mother tongue. It’s in my fondest memories, of my family’s love and support for me. It creates the bridge, now, for my connections with my relatives.

I still think very much with Chinese ethic and ‘drive’, but my views are more open because of my English education; English is now the language I can express myself in, the language that dominates my thinking process. It is the language I get encouragement from my peers and teachers, the drive for working hard. I empathise with the character in a poem we read this morning; two languages, one one’s ‘mother tongue’, one ‘other tongue’, can feel at variance with each other in real life.

I also wanted to emphasise the delights and importance of learning a language, so I concluded the poem with ‘I love studying languages’, in German, a language I enjoy studying.

 

Flying High by Taha Haque

Flying high,
In the sky,
All alone,
Not with others.
If I were one,
Then I’d have fun,
Wherever and whenever.
As colourful as a rainbow,
Symmetrical too,
Landing on flowers, on the pretty petals.
Cycle after cycle,
Generation after generation.
Crawling and munching,
Later with bright wings.
Flying high,
In the sky,
Can you guess what am I?

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I wrote this poem because I saw a butterfly (answer to the poem) recently and was thinking about it. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head about a poem about this. Butterflies are normally just flying peacefully and most of the time don’t bother people. I thought about how pretty they look as they flutter by and all the different colours and shades they come in. I thought about that most of the time we see butterflies on their own and not in groups or with other butterflies. They’re normally on flowers because they get attracted to it. The cycle continues when a caterpillar is born then becomes a beautiful butterfly. I wrote this poem in the style of a riddle because I like answering them and most of the time they’re not that boring so they catch the reader’s attention!

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